While we were loading some gear into Spaceland in Silver Lake L.A. a middle-aged man parked his motorcycle in a conspicuous spot on the sidewalk and passed me on his way into the building. He exuded an air of confidence and his all-black-leather look was very eye-catching. He shot me a friendly smile which I returned.
Later, Dave told me that the famous Canadian musician/producer Daniel Lanois was somewhere in the bar and I realized that he was the dude on the bike! Now, I'm not really a star-chaser, I'm a little shy around new people and I rarely just barge up to people who don't know me and try to engage them in conversation, particularly rich and famous people.
But I'm an engineer/producer myself and so is Dave, and I'd have to admit that since the early eighties I've been impressed over and over again by Mr.. Lanois' work. It was people like him and Brian Eno and Steve Lilywhite who really got me fired up about producing pop music when I was a teen. So I thought to myself 'He's at my show and he isn't even talking to anyone right now, maybe he'd even like some company' So I made my move.
I went up to the pool-room/lounge when he was sitting and shook his hand. I will attempt to re-create some of our conversation:
JC: Are you Daniel Lanois?
JC: My name's John. I just thought I'd come and say hello. I'm a fan of your work.
JC: Actually, I'm a musician and my band the Evaporators is playing tonight.
DL: That's great. Are you guys from L.A.?
JC: No we're from Vancouver!
DL: Ah! You're on tour!
DL: How much do you guys make?
JC: Uh... not that much. I guess the band is pulling in about a hundred bucks a night on average. It's really just kind of a hobby not so much a way of earning income but we've been at it since high school and now we can't stop.
DL: How old are you?
JC: I'm thirty-five. But it's not the only thing I do. I'm a record producer too!
DL: Like me!
JC: Yes! And I'm also in another band that is a bit more of a money earner, we're called the New Pornographers. Maybe you've heard of us?
DL: That's great!
JC: Maybe you've heard of the lady who sings with us; Neko Case? She has like a country career too.
DL: I don't know...
JC: Actually, my partner Dave and I are going to be working as producers on a project in a month or so with a couple of Canadian twin singing ladies who are really great and it's going to be kind of a big, legitimate deal. I mean they're on Vapor; Neil Young's Label.
DL: Oh. Have you ever had something really explode?
JC: I guess the New Pornographers have sold over fifty thousand.
DL: I mean really blow up.
JC: I'm not bothering you am I? I mean, do you mind talking?
DL: Oh no. You're not bothering me.
JC: Great. So, how come you're not in New Orleans?
DL: Oh, I moved. It was time to move on.
JC: So you live in L.A.?
DL: Not far from here.
JC: Are you working on anything?
DL: I'm always working on stuff.
JC: Your own stuff? Cool!
DL: Yeah it's pretty heavy stuff. Really cutting edge...
And with that Daniel bolted to his feet. Going from neutral to overdrive. He went to the pair of people that were playing pool and engaged them both animatedly showing the woman whose turn to shoot it was how he thought she should play the next few shots. It was clear that he wanted to get in on the next game with the winner of that game and thusly put an end to the boring part of his evening. He was charming and a little weird and I didn't feel too snubbed.
Later that night I found out that he had watched our show and I thought that was cool. I also found out that before I went up and talked to him, when Harold Ray Live were playing their set. Daniel walked up to the stage and dumped all the cash from his wallet at their feet! So that explained a lot! When he asked me how old I was and how much we made every night he was just feeling my pain! Dumping cash on the stage was a very concrete show of support for the touring band. And they were playing first and to a very small crowd. I overheard that he thought that they were the Canadian band so he must have been surprised when I told him that WE were from Vancouver. Anyway, I hope I get another chance to talk to him some time as I'm anxious to hear all about that "really cutting edge" stuff.
-John Collins, bass, The Evaporators
(Tue 08 Jun 2004 03:19:59 EDT)
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